WPP chief Sir Martin Sorrell: Google and Facebook should worry about government regulation

WPP CEO Martin Sorrell believes that Facebook and Google have a reason to be worried.

In a conversation with best-selling author and long-time New Yorker columnist Ken Auletta at Advertising Week in New York, Sorrell said that the possibility that the two companies would face government regulation cannot be ruled out.

“I think they do,” he said, responding to Auletta’s question about whether the companies needed to worry about the government. “No sovereign state will let a company become worth $US1 trillion.”

The WPP chief has referred to Facebook and Google as his “frenemies” time and again, saying that they needed to embrace their roles as media companies, and not merely technology companies. But, off late, the tremendous pressure on the companies had made them more of “flexible friends,” he said.

This, according to him, was because of the considerable pressures they were under. Facebook has been shrouded in controversy after it was revealed that Russian entities run ads on the platform during the election, while Google has been facing an anti-trust crackdown in the EU.

“With scale and size comes responsibility,” he said. “Whether it’s due to Vestager (EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager) and the EU putting pressure on them, political brand safety or consumer brand safety, the threat of regulation, or Steve Bannon’s exit remarks from the White House, I think Google and Facebook have become ‘friendlier frenemies’ or ‘flexible friends.'”

He also used the occasion to slam Facebook for its recent anti-Semetic ads targeting mishap.

“As a Jew, do I like the idea that Facebook provided the ability to target Jew haters?,” he said.

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